Monday, May 5, 2014

Diary: April 29 to May 5, 2014

  • I answer the question: What are some nice memories you have?
  • Thursday was a holiday. I got angry at Tony because he only wanted to go to the mall. It could have been worse. He could have wanted to have done something to mark International Socialism Day.
  • Via email, I received the first sign that I was becoming aged.
  • A David Warren essay lead me to waxing.
  • Other than that it was another week of going to school, talking to students, and consuming media via my Ipad.
  • One evening after work, I was distressed to see my bus pull into the stop when I was still on the third floor.
  • Tony doesn't like doing his Chinese homework.

Tuesday [April 29]
[School Laptop]
  • Today's shift: 13:00 to 21:00. Tomorrow's shift will be the same. Thursday will be a holiday which I am looking forward to.
  • Yesterday, I finished reading American Gun by Chris Kyle. I read it to annoy progressive types.
  • Last night, I watched the fourth episode of the fourth season of Game of Thrones. It wasn't a great episode. It just seemed to be transitioning the series's various plot lines along. Towards the end of the episode, there were characters from a plot line I had almost forgotten about. The last time, some of these characters appeared was in season three!
  • I also began watching Game Six of the 1986 World Series – a game with one of the most dramatic and heart-wrenching conclusions of all time. After three innings, the Red Sox had a two nothing lead – Clemens had yet to allow a hit.
  • What question should I deal with this week? I said last week that I would ask myself a softball question, so: What are some nice memories you have? The first one is the birth of my son. Another one is of my mother hugging my father on his death bed. And then there was the time when my wife was dancing with my father.
  • I forgot to mention. Yesterday, I was walking past the car dealerships in my area of Wuxi. From them, I could have taken a good photo of the Metro riding past, but it didn't. I did instead see that a Mazda dealership had been closed down. There was all this empty space around the building and the showroom looked particularly forlorn. I have never seen an abandoned car dealership before.

Wednesday [April 30]
[Home Laptop]
  • I just got an email from a friend of mine [HM in fact] telling me he got news that he will become a grandfather. It is a milestone for me. I have never had anyone send me “I am going to be a grandfather” news before.
  • It means I am getting old.
  • Tony is awful at learning Chinese characters. He got a four out of a hundred score on a recent test. Jenny says he really hates doing the Chinese character practice. Last week, he took to not bringing his Chinese homework home. On Friday, he left the homework at his desk at school. Jenny was suspicious about why he didn't bring any Chinese homework home and talked to the teacher. So yesterday the teacher made a point of it to put the homework in Tony's backpack and to tell Jenny that she had done so. But when Tony arrived home, he didn't bring the Chinese homework with him. He told Jenny that he took it out of his bag and left it at his desk.
  • Having Jenny tell me this story filled me with chagrined amusement. What a bugger! I thought.
  • But it shows that he does get ideas. Last week, he got the idea to bring his Ultraman and Godzilla toys to a table with a model real estate presentation in order to reenact fight scenes he had seen on Youku.
  • Last night, a student told me about citizens in Nanjing beating up the Chengguan (Chinese: 城管; pinyin: Chéngguǎn). I have heard about these government bully types on the Internet but it was the first time, a student told me about them. She got the news about them on the Internet. She told me that stories of the abuses of the Chengguan are reported in the government media.
[School Laptop]
  • My shift today: 13:00 to 21:00. Tomorrow – I will say it again – is a holiday.
  • What are some nice memories you have? Going to Met Stadium in the 1970's to see the Minnesota Vikings play the Miami Dolphins in an exhibition game. Going to Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas. Going to the Bay in Downtown Winnipeg with an Aunt in the 1970s and buying Beatles songs on 45 rpm records. Driving in New Mexico. Seeing desert in Arizona.

Thursday [May 1]
[Home Laptop]
  • Holiday! I sleep in.
  • Unfortunately, Jenny has a bad cold. I will have to make sure she is doing as well as she can.
  • I hope I can drag Tony out of the house and away from the Ipad.
  • I finished watching Game Six of the 1986 World Series. For all its drama, the game seemed to have been poorly played. There was an error by Ray Knight that shouldn't have been made by a major leaguer that lead to the game even having gone to extra innings. The Mets fifth and sixth runs were scored on account of Red Sox bumbling.
  • This morning, I finished watching Mother, Jugs & Speed, a movie about a private ambulance company in Los Angeles. Mother was Bill Crosby, Jugs was Raquel Welch, and Harvey Kietel was Speed. Larry Hagman played this creepy character who ogled at Raquel and had sex with one of the patients who was unconscious. The film is now a 1970s artifact but it is not without its merit. Bill Crosby gave a great performance as a cynical veteran driver who drinks as he drives. Tony watched part of the film with me. He liked the scenes with the ambulances rushing around the streets. He didn't seem to be put off by the 1970 vintage look of all the vehicles in the movie.
  • It is sunny outside. A perfect day to take Tony trainspotting.
  • I swore at Tony this afternoon. I got him out of the apartment but he just wanted to go to the shopping mall, that is the Wanda Plaza. I indulged Tony up to a point. I took him to the two arcades in the Mall and then to the KFC and then to a courtyard or mezzanine{?} area where I sat and watched him play with other kids. After those twenty minutes of watching, I told Tony that it was time to get out of the f***ing mall. The noise and the crowds were driving me mad. When Tony got upset and started to cry, I really over did it with the f-bombs. It is so f***ing pathetic that all you want to do is hang out at the Shopping Mall on a day when you should be outside enjoying the nice weather and exploring the countryside around our apartment! Instead you want to be like all the f***ing unimaginative and zombie types who have nothing better to do than go to this f***ing mall! At one point, Tony told me to f*** off. [Best to prepare him for the nonsense he will encounter in his life.]
  • I got Tony out of the Mall, and took him via e-bike to the Wu Culture Park where we wandered about for forty minutes. The Wu Culture Park is not a bad place to waste an afternoon, at least in comparison to the Wanda Mall. The Park has interesting buildings, exhibits, and walkways. However, it was at a pagoda in the park that I had my second session of swearing at Tony. He then earned my ire by refusing to come into the pagoda. When he didn't even want to come in for even a minute, I really laid into him. WTF is wrong with you! Are you f***ing scared! How about letting Daddy look at something for a minute? I had my outburst in front of a couple of other families. I eventually went up the pagoda myself and let Tony stew and sob at the entrance. But I then went downstairs and carried him up, full of apologies.
  • Tony” I said. “There are some things that Daddy does that you shouldn't do and that Daddy shouldn't do either!”
  • From the park, we took the e-bike to the Wuxi Jiangyin bridge where we saw one train and went home. We then took the bus downtown to meet Jenny at the Grandma's restaurant in Sunning Plaza. She had had coffee with a classmate she went to school with in Nanjing.
  • What are some nice memories you have? Seeing Iggy Pop in Winnipeg. Seeing REM and U2 on consecutive nights in Minneapolis. Giving a donation to a nun in Chilliwack. Talking to the Nuns who lived next to my elementary school in Quebec.

Friday [May 2]
[Home Laptop]
  • A three day holiday for Tony and many others in China, but I got to work.
  • I wake up feeling like crap. It must be because yesterday I drank a bottle of beer and two shots of Crown Royal.
[School Laptop]
  • Today's shift: 11:00 to 21:00.
  • I took a crowded 25 bus – crowded on account of the holiday – to work. With temperatures feeling summer-like, I was very much glad when the ride was over and I was downtown. [I had a seat but didn't look up from my Ipad to see if there were women with children or old people standing nearby.]
  • David Warren's latest essay was on silence. He complained about the noise of the modern world. He said it was grand to live, for a time, in an area where nobody owned cars. Modern men, he said, could not stand silence. Anyway, he said these and other things, and I agreed with his observations and his sentiments. I can add but these thoughts or observations. I achieve silence, of a sort, in the office at work. It is sometimes the silence of an empty office; empty that is except me. It is sometimes the silence of an office where no one is talking. The latter silence is an uncomfortable silence. It maybe stems from the modern feeling that one should not be silent in the comfort of others or from my misanthropy where the presence of others makes me uncomfortable. I prefer silence with solitude – a solitude spent with books. I am not sure if I could enjoy a silence with nothing but my thoughts.
  • As for Warren's observation about cars. So many of my neighbors in my apartment complex have cars; and I hate it. Part of this hatred of mine surely comes from the fact that I don't have a car myself. But as a pedestrian, I can justly be angry at how cars make walking hard and almost dangerous. To be fair, Chinese people, like people from Canada, when put in cars are isolating themselves from other people; but, this is also unfortunately true about the drivers in Wuxi: they are all inconsiderate brutes when it comes to pedestrians, and it makes me wish all Chinese drivers were back on bicycles.
  • I hate what cars do to this apartment complex – they destroy the pavement.
  • With more and more people in China having cars, more and more places in China are becoming not worth going to. Many places in China are being built to accommodate cars and are hence utterly charmless like commercial developments in North America that are surrounded or fronted by big parking lots.
  • What are some nice memories you have? From my immediate past, I would say that yesterday, it was nice to ride the bus with Tony with each of us having an Ipad. I could watch Olivier performing Hamlet while Tony could play his games. From my more distant past. I remember skating around Stanley Park in Vancouver twice; seeing the Mariners play at Safeco Field in Seattle; jogging on the country roads near Brandon, Manitoba; wandering book stores, used and new, all over the world; playing billiards and snooker in Brandon, Manitoba; walking to Minnehaha Falls in Minneapolis from my grandmother's house; listening to Sinatra CDs; watching Brandon Wheat King games in the Keystone center; buying Tony toys; talking to pretty girls in Chinaa; attending a Vancouver Canadian game where I got to talk to this old man who had been a musician and performed with Dean Martin – it beat seeing the beauty of British Columbia, and was probably the best time I had in B.C.
  • No Takara Tomy Plarail at the Ba Bai Ban toy department! I just went to look for something to buy Tony and discovered this disappointing fact. Is Takara Tomy available anywhere in Wuxi?
  • Student Lu Fei went to the pub last night got a black eye and a swollen lip because he got punched by a parking attendant during a dispute about parking.

Saturday [May 3]
[School Laptop]
  • My shift today: 10:00 to 18:00.
  • Jenny bought Tony a toy yesterday. It was some of kind of transformer toy that wasn't cheap. Tony, you see, won't stand for cheap toys. When I came home last night, Tony proudly showed the new toy to me.
  • After finishing my classes last night, I was walking down a third floor corridor when I saw below an 118 bus pull into the bus stop where I was planning to go to catch it. I often take the 118 bus to get to the stop where I catch the 635 which takes me to the Hui Shan District. Seeing the 118 bus from the third floor just then made me curse. The next 118 bus wouldn't come in time for me to get to the 635 stop where I can get a seat for my fifty minute ride home. So I instead took the 67 bus and hoofed it (walked at a brisk pace) to get to the 635 stop. It takes me ten minutes to walk from where I de-board the 67 to get to my ideal 635 stop. As I do this ten minute walk, I pass another 635 stop where, if I wait, there would have been a chance I would have lost the competition to get a seat. (At this stop, sometimes as many as twenty people board and people jostle intently to get on first and get a seat).
  • What are some nice memories you have? Seeing my brother's band play in a pub in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The name of the pub was the Saint Charles if I remember correctly. Seeing a no-hitter pitched in a minor league game in Vancouver, and being one of the few fans in the stands who was aware that a no-hitter was being pitched. Watching the Winnipeg Goldeyes clinch a Northern League Championship in their first season.

Sunday [May 4]
[Home Laptop]
  • No shift today.
  • Tony goes to school. Because the Chinese had May 1st to May 3rd off, that is Thursday to Saturday, they will have to work from Sunday to Friday.
  • I am spending the morning on the computer. I published two entries to the Wuxi China Expatdom Blog. I am processing four video files so I can watch them on my Apple products.
  • A student told me that the Chinese were annoyed that Obama came to Asia and didn't visit them. I told them that was one thing worse than Obama not visiting, and that was Obama visiting. Obama, I told the student, would have made a speech that bored everyone, so the Chinese should be grateful.
  • I am reading another book on Mathematics: Infinite Ascent by David Berlinski.
  • Picked up a pizza at the Wanda Plaza Pizza Hut last night. The person who took my order said they knew me. I am one of the few foreigners who come to that restaurant, I would suppose. I picked up an Hawaiian pizza and Tony was not pleased. I had to pick the pineapple pieces out for him before he would eat the pizza.
  • Jenny goes to Tony's school everyday to feed him lunch. He won't eat the cafeteria food.
  • What are some nice memories you have? Having Tony sit beside me at bedtime. Reading to Tony at bedtime. Hiking the mountains and hills of British Columbia. Pretty girls coming to talk to me. Eating Cheese Nips at Salisbury House in Winnipeg. Watching bands at the Spectrum Cabaret in Winnipeg. The occasional mentions I have gotten on the Internet.
  • Finished watching a Fistful of Dynamite. James Caan plays an Irishmen and Rod Steiger plays a Mexican in the film which is set during the Mexican Revolution. Contains the usual Sergio Leone flourishes.
  • Finished watching the 1948 film adaptation of Hamlet starring Laurence Olivier. Great film.
  • Finished reading Infinite Ascent by David Berlinski. The book is a history of Mathematics. I can't say I completely understood it. I can't say I even half understood it.
  • I read bits of the Bible, an Italian grammar book, a small anthology of Tennyson poetry, As You Like It, a book about Deng Xiaopeng written by Ezra Vogel, a book about Teaching English, and The Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton.
  • Watched the replay of the perfect game that Denis Martinez pitched for the Expos in 1992.

Monday [May 5]
[Home Laptop]

  • No shift today.
  • Jenny was sick yesterday. She slept all day while I took in media on my Ipad.
  • Yesterday evening, I took Tony to the Wanda Plaza to have supper.
  • I don't feel so hot today. I won't do much and I won't blog much.
  • What are some nice memories you have? Watching Denis Martinez pitch the perfect game live on the television. Getting Maurice Richard's autograph in Fredericton, New Brunswick at a Montreal Canadien old-timers game. Getting Don Cherry's autograph at Brandon's Keystone Center during a Wheat King's game. Being able to get Frank Mahovlich's autograph at the Brandon Keystone Center during a Maple Leaf's old-timers game. Watching the Jets play in the old Winnipeg Arena. Going to Husky Stadium to see the Seahawks play. Going to Husky Stadium to see the Huskies play. Watching the Canadian Junior Hockey Team trounce the Soviet Junior Hockey Team 7-0 at the Winnipeg Arena in 1981. Twenty years later, I saw a replay of the game on the TSN classic channel. I also remember seeing the Jets beat the Red Army team but I don't recall the year it happened.
  • The entrance gate to our complex is finally being repaired two weeks after it broke which was two weeks after it was installed. [I mentioned the gate in last week's entry.] Ah! Yes! Chinese workmanship! Almost as bad as Andis Kaulins workmanship.
  • Episode five of the fourth season of Game of Thrones has been downloaded. Jenny has two episodes to watch. She refuses to watch one episode at a time.
  • I was able to take photos of a Wuxi Metro and the seemingly abandoned Mazda dealership today. [Refer to April 29].

No comments: